Partners for a Week

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond got a late-night phone call from a friend last Saturday who was relieved his Southeastern Conference rushing record for quarterbacks remained intact.

"He said, 'We thought you lost (the record). But you've still got it,'" Bond said.

Actually, Bond did lose his record (2,280 yards) when Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones rolled to his left and jogged 54 yards down the sideline during the Razorbacks' 38-20 loss at then-No. 4 Auburn. The big gain gave Jones 2,289 career rushing yards, but the senior was sacked later by Tigers' defensive lineman Stanley McClover for a nine-yard loss and ended the game tied with Bond.

So Bond, who still lives in Starkville, said he'll enjoy his record a little longer.

"We're partners for a week. I better celebrate," Bond said. "It's funny because it has been around for 21 years, but nobody said a word. I couldn't tell you who I broke it from. Nothing was said when I did it. Times are different."

Bond, who played in Mississippi State's triple option offense from 1980-83, has fielded about a dozen phone calls from media outlets wanting to talk to him about his record this fall.

He tuned into last Saturday's Arkansas-Auburn game, watched Jones break the record and then fall into a tie in the second half. Friends poked fun at Bond when he was the answer to CBS's weekly trivia question and his circa-1980s mug shot flashed up on the screen.

Bond could hold his piece of the record a little longer if Jones is unable to play against No. 10 Georgia because of the groin injury. If that were the case, the Hogs have a bye week on Oct. 30 and Jones' next chance to break the record would come at South Carolina on Nov. 6.

Either way, Bond knows the mark eventually will fall to Jones.

"I think he's a winner," said Bond, who hopes to meet Jones when Arkansas plays at Mississippi State on Nov. 20. "He fights and it's never over with him. That's why he's so much fun to watch. And he's a great athlete. He's got great skills. He's fast, people take bad angles on him and it's a big mistake.

"He's the kind of guy, (his groin is) going to have to be popped in half if he's not going to play. But groins are tough to heal. I hope he can play Saturday."

North and South
Starting tailback DeCori Birmingham has had trouble finding running room the past few weeks. But coach Houston Nutt said Sunday the senior also needs to do a better job of running north and south.

Birmingham leads Arkansas running backs with 303 rushing yards on 63 attempts. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder has 55 yards on 22 attempts the past two games and gave way to backup Dedrick Poole, who had more success against the Tigers.

"I think one of the things, he's probably pressing to make a bigger play," Nutt said. "Against teams like Auburn, Florida, those teams, it's hard to go sideways. You've got to get north in a hurry. There's a certain amount of time to get in that crease.

"I think you'll see a difference in him. It's not because he doesn't want to either. He's trying awfully hard. But he's probably going a little bit too much sideways right now. I tell you, these last two defenses now, if you're sitting back there in DeCori's shoes, there's not much (room), it closes in a hurry."

Grant to start?
Nutt said cornerback Michael Grant could earn his first career start Saturday in place of injured sophomore Michael Coe (bruised thigh). It would be fitting, especially since the Stone Mountain (Ga.) native signed with the Bulldogs last February and ended up at Arkansas after Georgia refused to admit him this summer.

"He's probably going to start this week because of Michael Coe's situation," Nutt said. "He'll be excited, but he's excited every time he steps on the field."

Grant said he'd love the opportunity, but doesn't believe he'd be Arkansas' starter because the true freshman hasn't played on Coe's side. Grant said classmate Matterral Richardson is probably the next in line to start at field corner because he has worked as Coe's backup all year.

"That's what I came here for was the chance to play," Grant said. "I'm not sure I'm going to start because I don't play on Michael Coe's side. I play on Darius Vinnett's side. If anything, it's going to be Matterral Richardson starting on that side."

Extra points
Trainer Dean Weber said fullback Peyton Hillis felt fine the day after Sunday's workout. Hillis had missed two weeks with a lower back injury and might return to contact drills later this week. ... Arkansas' offense lost ground in the SEC standings, falling from first two second in scoring (34.8), passing yards (245.8) and total yards (438.8). ... The NCAA released its first Bowl Championship Series standings Monday and five of Arkansas' opponents were in the top 25, including Auburn (No. 4), Georgia (No. 10), Texas (No. 11), LSU (No. 19) and Florida (No. 22).

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